The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is stepping down. He was the best of men, the most thoughtful of prelates, and few in the Church today can match him for intellectual force. Yet I know I’m not alone in thinking that his ten years as the head of the Anglican Communion have proved a disappointment.
The man who shone in academia and whose pastoral care was exemplary felt uneasy in the world of politics – both clerical and secular. He felt uncomfortable among the bickering factions of his own Church, and deeply saddened by the hatred sparked by such issues as the ordination of women bishops and gay priests. His distaste for politicking made him squander time (and goodwill) in inactivity: he refused to join the fray, and often took a long time to speak out on issues central to the Church, such as, most recently, gay marriage. Too often this left the Church of England looking and feeling rudderless.